Excerpt from the Hussman Funds' Weekly Market Comment (8/24/09):
A good economist thoughtfully recognizes “general equilibrium” – resources moved to one place must be taken from somewhere else. Securities or monetary liabilities, once issued, must be held by someone in the economy until they are retired (the failure to recognize this is the basis for the “cash on the sidelines” fallacy). Instead, Bernanke's economic research is a minefield of partial equilibrium analysis. Helicopter Ben is a lot like John Maynard Keynes, who wrote in his General Theory “If the Treasury were to fill old bottles with banknotes, bury them at suitable depths, and leave it to private enterprise on well-tried principles of laissez-faire to dig the notes up again, there need be no more unemployment.”
Solving economic problems, to our Fed Chairman, is as easy as throwing money out of helicopters. Not surprisingly, throwing money out of helicopters has been the basic core of his strategy during this crisis. This does not involve complex thought about debt restructuring, moral hazard, incentives, equitable distribution of resources, or other factors. All it requires is the three second tape playing in Bernanke's head - "We let the banks fail in the Great Depression, and look what happened." And then the tape repeats. Never mind that the cause of the upheaval was not the failure of banks per se, but the disorganized Lehman-style failure of banks. The tape isn't long enough to encompass such nuances.
Ben Bernanke (like Tim Geithner and his predecessor Hank Paulson), shows no hesitation in diverting the real resources of the American public to defend and compensate the bondholders of mismanaged financial companies who made reckless loans and who should have (and equally important, could have) been expected to write down principal or swap debt for equity as an alternative to receivership. This is not decisiveness. It is timidity and poor stewardship. Worse, the underlying problems are not healed - only band-aided temporarily by a flood of public money.